28th March, 2023
A lot of things don’t make any sense. The numbers don’t add up, the explanations are full of holes. And yet they keep happening – people making crazy decisions, reacting in bizarre ways. Over and over.
Historian Will Durant once said, “logic is an invention of man and may be ignored by the universe.”
And it often is, which can drive you mad if you expect the world to work in rational ways.
A common cause of everything from divisive arguments to bad forecasting is that it can be hard to distinguish what’s happening from what you think should be happening.
The Battle of the Bulge was one of the deadliest American military battles in history. 19000 American soldiers were killed, another 70,000 wounded, in just over a month as Nazi Germany made an ill-fated last push against the Allies.
Part of the reason it was so bloody is that Americans were surprised. And part of the reason they were surprised is that in the rational minds of American generals, it made no sense for Germany to attack.
The Germans didn’t have enough troops to win a counterattack, and the few that were left were often children under age 18 with no combat experience. They didn’t have enough fuel. They were running out of food. The terrain of the Ardenne Forest in Belgium stacked the odds against them. The weather was atrocious.
The Allies knew all of this. They reasoned that any rational German commander would not launch a counterattack. So the American lines were left fairly thin and ill-supplied.
And then, boom. The Germans attacked anyway.
What the American generals overlooked was how unhinged Hitler had become. He wasn’t rational. He was living in his own world, detached from reality and reason. When his generals asked where they should get fuel to complete the attack, Hitler said they could just steal it from the Americans. Reality didn’t matter.
Historian Stephen Ambrose notes that Eisenhower and General Omar Bradley got all the war-planning reasoning and logic right in late 1944, except for one detail – how deranged Hitler had become. But that mattered more than anything.
It doesn’t add up, it seems illogical, but that is how the world works.
Most things in the world work that way; we are taught to be rational & logical, but the human element comes in & all theories go for a six and events happen in a most irrational fashion.
Markets behave that way, wars happen because of that, relationships are soured because of that.
Even while fully knowing the risks, we behave in a totally different manner be it related to our health, work, investing, relationships etc.
Understand the logical way but be prepared to accept that it doesn’t work that way & stay blessed forever.